Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee on Friday accused Newt Gingrich of using racial “code words” in calling President Barack Obama the “food stamp president” and saying schools ought to hire children to do janitorial work.
The Texas congresswoman’s comments came in response to a question about remarks she made on the House floor Wednesday, when she said there are “candidates like Newt Gingrich who want to throw fuel and matches and fire to develop sort of an explosiveness in this country” and there are “underlying suggestions” to calling Obama the “food stamp president.”
“These are code words. It’s inappropriate,” Jackson Lee told MSNBC’s Martin Bashir Friday. “Let me say that the code words, as far as I’m concerned words that generate and signify race.”
“[With Gingrich] It is ‘I will use race to divide. I will call the president the food stamp president,'” she said. “Telling us that a janitor who makes $37,000 would be in a better position to give his job up so that the children of the poor in New York…can pick up a broom and work.”
To say children in New York should “pick up a broom and work…is a code word to, if you will, portray poor children and poor school districts that they have seen no one work legitimately,” she said. “That they don’t have a work ethic and these janitors are overpaid unionized workers who don’t have family and are not making $37,000 a year”
“I think Mr. Gingrich should be ashamed of himself and we should not want to win at any cost. Let’s bring the country together. Let’s not destroy Mr. Obama. Let’s talk about helping the American people,” she said.
Her comments came just days after former President Jimmy Carter made a similar charge against Gingrich as well, saying there’s a “subtlety of racism” to his comments about food stamps and welfare.
Watch Jackson Lee’s remarks below, via MSNBC: